Sale Out of the Graeme Family Graeme Park - Horsham Plantation, Horsham Township Pennsylvania
The exigencies of the wartime economy clearly had its effect even on the most affluent of American society. Elizabeth Fergusson's petition to the Pennsylvania General Assembly of February 20, 1781 regarding whether the estate would be entirely confiscated and sold noted that "a variety of causes have contributed to bring the estate into great want of repairs in almost every part." Fergusson's protracted legal entanglement surrounding the estate clearly curtailed the execution of any repairs after the cessation of open conflict. William Rawle's 1786 diary entry does portray an unkempt and unproductive landscape at Graeme Park: "There was some residue of expence (sic), and amplitude about Graeme Park which gave me however no sensations of veneration or pity.. .The house & 550 acres of land around it, now preserves the ostentatious title of Graeme Park-tho' it never was a park. Lady Keith's trustees sold it to Doctor Graeme, who repaired and beautified the house which is indeed internally very elegant, and neglected the farm... The mansion house stands low & inelegantly commands no views either naturally or artificially beautiful. The front, after passing over a ruined garden is stopped by the large stone buildings erected by Sr. W. K. for distilleries .. .being now neither comfortable nor venerable-neither in good order nor agreeably ruinous-are altogether nuisances to the effect... The eye on the left side is entangled with the highway, & on the right, stretched upon a long, lifeless, level field-without swells, without clumps, without water, without distant hills."
Thus, while some admiration was given to the interior Georgian retrofitting during the elder Graeme's tenancy, with no comment on its state of upkeep-the surrounding ornamental and productive landscape, previously of great interest to Fergusson, had fallen into disrepair and was clearly disparaged.
After attempting a variety of different sales schemes in which she retained portions of the estate, in 1791, Fergusson sold the entirety of Graeme Park to Dr. William Smith. She remained at Graeme Park until 1797 at which time her health had deteriorated to the point where she could no longer care for herself. In 1801, under "great and protracted pain," Fergusson died and was interred with her parents in the enclosed graveyard of Christ Church, Philadelphia. In the decades after her death, many aspects of her life-structuring ideologies faded in American society as virtuous republicanism was engulfed by the staggering changes under the market revolution. Fergusson modeled both the public and private space of Graeme Park on republican notions of virtue. Publicly, Graeme Park was a setting where the ideological architects of the American Revolution developed a vernacular version of classical republicanism. Her farm became a working manifestation of the "noble farmer" ideal and the site of contemporary trends and theories regarding the contrived natural landscape; the land was developed both for practical production as well as aesthetic enjoyment. Privately, Graeme Park was for Elizabeth Graeme Fergusson an enchanted place of personal reflection, prayer, meditation, and learning; a locale where God's natural world inspired and taught the divine attributes of virtue and reason. Her influence on the physical and mental construction of place resulted in an enduring culture of virtuous space, a tangible sign of the past, experienced by those who wandered Graeme Park's groves and meadows long after Fergusson departed. In the final years of her life, Fergusson became skeptical about the ability of government to cultivate a virtuous citizenry, but she never lost faith in the republican ideal: "Tho' the great deem us little, and do us despise, Let them know it is wise to make little suffice, In this we will teach them, altho they are great, It is always true wisdom to bend to our fate; For tho King or Congress should carry the day, We farmers and spinners at least must obey. Then let our wheels and reels go merily round, While health, peace and virtue among us are found."